A Powerful Intention Begins with The Declaration

To state it clearly, an "intention" is something you want to get done, but which you cannot do by yourself. It could be a strategy, a mindset, an idea, a task, a concept - or a dream.

It is interesting that a declaration goes hand-in-hand with an intention. Practically, there’s nothing true about a declaration. It doesn’t exist in the natural world. It is made up. It is declaring something into existence. There was no independence for the 13 American colonies when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. A war was already waging in dispute of what Jefferson was declaring. Nor was it true that all men were created equal when Jefferson, the owner of slaves, wrote those words. Another war would be fought to make the self-evidence of that statement a little less untrue.

The power of declaring something is to paint a picture of moving from a current state to a desired state.  With this, you signal the better nature of a life being sought as you set out to influence change. And, with this, you can spend your days inspiring others to live up to what you have declared.

Here are the three things that constitute a successful declaration of intention:

Clarity of cause

Fulfilling an intention at the upper end of what's possible does not result from merely telling others what they should do differently. It happens when people rally around your cause, your “why.” Here are a few questions to help you sharpen the clarity of your cause:

  • Why is this important for you? For those around you?
  • What are the consequences of doing nothing?
  • What can be the result of changing the way you, and those around you, do things? 

Picture of change

There is a picture you have of how people might think and act when working to fulfill your intention. Think of change as a shift in the way you want things done. To contribute, people need to be made aware of these new expectations. These questions are designed to help you describe the way business is to be done now:

  • How would you describe the intended from-to to someone else?
  • How might people best contribute to a new way of doing things?

Combining ‘Cause’ & ‘Picture’

The act of declaration is the coupling of why change is important with the picture of the specific change you are seeking. People will not immediately recognize the need for change with the same depth of understanding that you have. Be clear, concise and actionable. By declaring your intention, you are extending the invitation for others to start thinking and acting differently. Having an intention is great; declaring it starts the clock. The most actionable intentions answer these questions:

  • What, exactly, do you want to do?
  • Why is it worth doing?
  • By when do you want to be finished?
  • How will you know you are making progress?

Excerpt from sr4's Path to Sustainable Change, 2011